Glastonbury Public Schools Foreign Language

Spanish Journal Entries

Queridos amigos, Day One

Well, smooth sailing across the Atlantic has found us on the peninsula that was responsible for bringing horses to the Americas. We arrived to a rousing ovation from our Spanish families, and in no time we were all off to our homes for the weekend.

Queridos amigos, Day Three

What a weekend it has been! We arrived to a great group of smiling faces at the airport on Saturday. We were able to quickly join our families and start our time as real Spaniards. Everyone had opportunities to explore many parts of the city with their families and friends. We have all adjusted incredibly well to the vida española with respect to new foods, eating times, and of course communication with our families. Today at school we have had a tour and visited classes. We were able to attend English classes and even got a bit of movement at gym class!

Our weather here has been most interesting for Madrid! Saturday it was raining on one block, but bright and sunny just a few blocks away. We were also greeted with rainbows and even a bit of HAIL! All of our Spanish friends have assured us that this weather is not typical, so we are hoping to see more sun and warmer temperatures.

Queridos amigos, Day Five

The past few days have been quite busy, and chilly! On Tuesday, the warmest and sunniest day that we've seen here in Madrid, we spent the day enjoying the sights and sounds of the capital city. We walked from the city center to the Prado Museum, where we toured the Palacio Real, the largest palace in Europe. Highlights included: a huge state dining room with seating for 140+ guests and a sumptuous throne room with ceiling by Tiepolo. From there, we walked to the Retiro, the Central Park of Madrid. There, students were able to visit the Palacio de Cristal and then had some free time to wander around the park, bargain with the vendors, or even rent a small boat and cruise the pond. Afterwards, students had a panoramic view of the city via an open air bus ride. We were able to stop at the Templo de Debod, a gift of appreciation from Egypt, and had a great view of the southern part of the city.

Wednesday we traveled via bus to Segovia, located to the northwest of Madrid, where we viewed one of the truly exquisite sites of the early Christian era: a Roman aqueduct. While only a small portion of this aqueduct survives today, it once served to bring water from its source to the city. Also, we were able to see several cathedrals from various eras and styles of design.

Queridos amigos, Day Eleven

Our weather here in Madrid has continued to improve, although we understand that it has gone in the opposite direction at home. Our skies have been sunny although the temperatures have struggled to reach 70. The outlook for the rest of the week looks good.

Since my last update, I have been to many wonderful places! Last Friday we visited El Escorial, which serves as a monastery, school and burial place for former monarchs of Spain. The buildings are very severe in their architectural style and we were all highly impressed and interested in the history of this former palace.

The weekend allowed for family time, which provided all of us with an authentic Spanish experience, including the cultural customs of a much more leisurely pace of life and the extended meal time. Many of us had an opportunity to (again) visit the rastro, where we were able to use our bargaining skills. This weekly tradition provided all of us with a very typical madrileño experience.

Monday, we visited the historical sites of Toledo, the former Spanish capital. Our teachers continue to be impressed by us with our love of history and curiosity about the places we visit, they have noted that we are building on our knowledge base that began in our Spanish classes in Glastonbury. Toledo provided an exceptional opportunity for all of us to understand the confluence of culture coming together and ultimately the expulsion of both the Arab and Jews from Spain´s Catholic Empire.

Yesterday, the AVE, a high-speed train, landed us in Cordoba, in front of the Catedral de Cordoba, formerly the Mezquita de Cordoba. This site, which we studied in 7th grade was simply draw-dropping! The enormity of this building cannot be describe in words, nor can the feeling many of our students had when they learned that a Catholic cathedral had been built in the center of this Muslim holy place. We were also able to see the Alcazar, which was a former royal residence. We were able to spend time exploring some of the building, and were able to get a picturesque view of the city from atop one of the towers. The gardens were simply breathtaking, with multiple pools, fountains, sculpted trees, and beautiful flowers. The scene was truly one set for magical moments.

Queridos amigos, Day Thirteen

It's hard to believe that it's finally time to say goodbye. Our two weeks have flown by with exciting trips, new friendships, and rich cultural experiences. This will be my final entry during our time in Madrid.

Yesterday, Wednesday, we were able to visit that Reina Sofia Modern Museum of Art here in Madrid. It's compared to the MOMA in New York. There, we were able to see on of Picasso’s most famous works, Guernica, which he painted after the Spanish Civil War.

Today we had a morning of churros y chocolate and this afternoon we were able to visit the Prado Museum. El Prado is one of the most prestigious art museums in the world. El Prado has a collection of more than 2,000 paintings by such artists as El Greco, Goya and Velazquez. We were excited to see several paintings which we have learned about in our Spanish classes- Las Meninas, Dos de Mayo and La Familia de Carlos IV.

Sadly this afternoon, we also had to say goodbye to Ana, our guide for the past two weeks. After tearful goodbye, we all returned to our host families for one last evening together. This trip has been one that can only be described as amazing! I’m so thankful for all of the experiences that my friends and I have had.

Hasta pronto!